The Queen celebrates winners of the 2022 Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition

Camilla remembered the late Queen as she recognised writers from across the world

To celebrate this year’s Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition, The Queen Consort hosted the winners and celebrity guests at Buckingham Palace to mark the occasion. 

It was also an opportunity for Her Majesty to make her first speech as Queen Consort, where she paid tribute to her ‘dear mother-in-law’, who was in her thoughts and ‘greatly missed by us all’.

Queen Camilla at a reception for the winners of the Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition at Buckingham Palace

The Queen Consort had noted how the late Queen had been Patron of The Royal Commonwealth Society since 1952 and used her ‘remarkable reign’ to improve ‘the lives and prospects of all Commonwealth citizens’.

Alluding to the anniversary of Queen Elizabeth I coming to the throne in 1558, The Queen Consort quoted the previous monarch ‘you never had any that will love you better’ and said the description could be applied to Queen Elizabeth II and ‘her enduring love for the Commonwealth’.

Reflecting on the time since the Queen’s passing in September, The King and Queen have received messages of condolence from ‘the four corners of the world’. She said it has provided them with ‘immense comfort’, and continues to do so as they still receive messages. 

The King and Queen Consort view tributes outside Buckingham Palace. (Royal Family)

Camilla noted these messages have ‘reminded us the written world has unique ability to connect, to heal, to reassure and to offer hope, even in the midst of grief.’ 

Upon their return to London after the Queen’s passing, The King and Queen Consort saw the vast amount of tributes that had already been left outside of Buckingham Palace on their return to London from Scotland.

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Camilla compared the written messages to the winners of the Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition, who know ‘the power of the written word’. She explained how this year’s participants had ‘produced brilliant pieces that explored inspirational leadership, through reflecting on the example of Her Late Majesty’ and the theme for this year, ‘Our Commonwealth’.

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The competition is the world’s oldest international writing competition for schools. This year’s competition received more than 26,000 entries, with winners from New Zealand, Australia, India and the United Kingdom.

The Queen Consort cited Nelson Mandela as a figure who was frequently mentioned in works, as he too ‘understood the power of language’.

‘Mandela was a great writer. He was also described as ‘a man of the Commonwealth’, famously saying on entering Marlborough House, ‘the Commonwealth makes the world safe for diversity’. The Commonwealth, like writing, touches the whole world.’

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Camilla told guests that ‘all of us are bound together by a profound appreciation of the written word and of our Commonwealth’. 

Describing the Commonwealth as a ‘wonderful, extraordinary, richly diverse association of independent and equal nations, and friends, is truly, ‘ours’, belonging to each one of us and the connections between us run deep’.

She concluded her speech by quoting Nelson Mandela: ‘a winner is a dreamer who never gives up’.

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Extracts from the winning entries were read by four Royal Commonwealth Society ambassadors, Ben Okri; Alexandra Burke; Ayesha Dharker; and former Spice Girl, Geri Horner.

The Queen Consort is Vice Patron of the Royal Commonwealth Society.

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